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Elegy I. He Arrives at His Retirement in the Country

William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)

He Arrives at His Retirement in the Country, and Takes Occasion To Expatiate in Praise of Simplicity.

To a Friend

For rural virtues, and for native skies,
I bade Augusta's venal sons farewell;
Now 'mid the trees I see my smoke arise,
Now hear the fountains bubbling round my cell.

O may that Genius, which secures my rest,
Preserve this villa for a friend that's dear!
Ne'er may my vintage glad the sordid breast,
Ne'er tinge the lip that dares be insincere!

Far from these paths, ye faithless Friends, depart!
Fly my plain board, abhor my hostile name!
Hence the faint verse that flows not from the heart,
But mourns, in labour'd strains, the price of fame!

O loved Simplicity! be thine the prize!
Assiduous Art correct her page in vain!
His be the palm, who, guiltless of disguise,
Contemns the power the dull resource to feign!

Still may the mourner, lavish of his tears
For lucre's venal need, invite my scorn!
Still may the bard, dissembling doubts and fears,
For praise, for flattery sighing, sigh forlorn!

Soft as the line of lovesick Hammond flows,
'Twas his fond heart effused the melting theme;
Ah! never could Aonia's hill disclose
So fair a fountain, or so loved a stream.

Ye loveless Bards! intent with artful pains
To form a sigh, or to contrive a tear!
Forego your Pindus, and on - plains
Survey Camilla's charms, and grow sincere.

But thou, my Friend! while in thy youthful soul
Love's gentle tyrant seats his awful throne,
Write from thy bosom-let not art control
The ready pen, that makes his edicts known.

Pleasing, when youth is long expired, to trace
The forms our pencil or our pen design'd!
'Such was our youthful air, and shape, and face!
Such the soft image of our youthful mind!'

Soft, whilst we sleep beneath the rural bowers,
The Loves and Graces steal unseen away;
And where the turf diffused its pomp of flowers,
We wake to wintry scenes of chill decay!

Curse the sad fortune that detains thy fair;
Praise the soft hours that gave thee to her arms;
Paint thy proud scorn of every vulgar care,
When hope exalts thee, or when doubt alarms.

Where with Oenone thou hast worn the day,
Near fount or stream, in meditation, rove;
If in the grove Oenone loved to stray,
The faithful Muse shall meet thee in the grove.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:03 min read
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William Shenstone

William Shenstone was an English poet and one of the earliest practitioners of landscape gardening through the development of his estate, The Leasowes. more…

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